November 19, 2017

Borussia Dortmund 2-2 VfB Stuttgart: Immobile saves Dortmund’s blushes

An 85th minute equaliser from Ciro Immobile saved a point for Dortmund after Daniel Didavi scored twice for the visitors and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for the home side. Dortmund’s defensive frailties were badly exposed as both of Didavi’s goals came from defensive errors.  The draw lifted Stuttgart off the very bottom of the Bundesliga table only hours after Sporting Director Fredi Bobic had been fired, though with two points on the year they still remain firmly in the relegation zone.

As always the Signal Iduna Park was rocking but that wasn’t enough to prevent what was ultimately a very poor performance from Jürgen Klopp’s side where they were lucky to even get a point, as they’levelled only because of an error by goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.  To be fair, though, Klopp was missing his entire starting midfield for Wednesday’s matchup.

Dortmund’s Defence in need of serious work

Dortmund’s defensive performance was something akin to Schalke’s performance against Borussia Mönchengladbach a few weeks ago. The only difference between the two was that Gladbach were more clinical than Stuttgart. Like Schalke’s performance against Gladbach both full-backs, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek in this case, pushed forward from the beginning and this allowed the centre-back pairing of Neven Subotic and Sokratis Papastathopulos to be repeatedly exposed on the counter-attack. Their lack of serious pace was a problem nearly every time youngster Timo Werner got the ball.

While the whole defence can be blamed for each of the Stuttgart goals, the main offender on both occasions was Marcel Schmelzer. For the first goal Stuttgart played a short corner that was initially dealt with by the defence but when the ball fell to Schmelzer he dallied at the side of the box and was dispossessed by VfB’s Dortmund-loanee Moritz Leitner and the ball eventually made its way to Didavi who slotted it home leaving Roman Weidenfeller with no chance. For the second goal a Stuttgart free-kick was taken quickly on the halfway line before a long ball was played in for Didavi.  Instead of just knocking it out for a corner and allowing his team to regroup Schmelzer tried to play it smart and use the outside of his left foot to flick it away. The ball fell to Christian Gentner and as Schmelzer went to close him down the ball was played to Didavi who was open inside the box and he slotted home once again. These defensive mistakes clearly infuriated Klopp who brought on Mats Hummels for Aubameyang even after Dortmund had pulled one back.

Signs of Promise for Stuttgart and Armin Veh

Tonight Stuttgart should’ve been heading home from Dortmund with 3 points. Due to a virus which had struck key players such as Vedad Ibišević.  Coach Armin Veh played youngster Werner upfront in a false nine position. He played the position extremely well, holding the ball up well, causing havoc on the counter-attack with his pace and creating space for others. In the first half Stuttgart struggled to get players up to support the young attacker and this was summed up in the 22nd minute when the 18-year old made a great run down the right hand side, but because he wasn’t supported had to shoot from a tight angle. He did actually force a decent save from Weidenfeller but it would’ve been very surprising had it gone in.

VfB had eight shots in total Wednesday. which was brilliant considering the poor form they’ve exhibited this season in attack and the fact that they were away to Dortmund.  Veh’s players also managed to win four corners in the game as well. Another high point for Stuttgart was the brace from Didavi ending his goal drought.  It was good to see the 24 year-old with a smile on his face again after a horrific injury-filled 2 years before which he was regarded as one of Germany’s top talents on the basis of a very successful loan spell in Nurnberg.. Stuttgart’s defence was also impressive, with Antonio Rüdiger arguably the man of the match. He showed why he has already been capped twice for Germany, making some great tackles and anticipating the ball well. In the 91st minute when Dortmund were banging on Stuttgart’s door the 21 year-old Berlin native saved his side when Piszczek’s shot went past Ulreich but was cleared off the line by Rüdiger.

Immobile still hasn’t shown what he can do:

Although Immobile did grab himself a goal tonight, his overall performance was very poor. He repeatedly kept coming short for the ball encroaching into Kagawa’s space and crowding that area. This meant he was rarely a threat in behind Suttgart’s defence and as a result Dortmund were very one=dimensional hitting the ball long and hoping that Aubameyang could use his considerable speed to run onto it.  This rarely worked. Apart from his goal his shooting accuracy was poor, one chance in particular summed up his game when he controlled the ball well before cutting inside but he shot well over. Dortmund’s first goal came from Stuttgart being dispossessed in their own half and Piszczek passed the ball to Aubameyang who controlled it well before rounding the keeper and striking it home. Immobile’s goal came from a brilliant delivery from a Schmelzer free kick that should’ve been dealt with easily by Ulreich but he misjudged it and was caught underneath allowing Immobile to easily find the net. While some may argue that by scoring Immobile is doing his job as a striker, Klopp’s system needs the striker to be involved in the build up as well as being threat offensively and Immobile wasn’t involved enough tonight.

Up next for Stuttgart is home tie Saturday against a Hannover 96 side historically poor away from home. Dortmund however face a trip to FC Schalke in one of the biggest game’s in German football, the ‘Reiverderby’. With both Champions League sides needing a win (Dortmund have only seven points after five league matches, Schalke only five) while Schalke have and both having poor defensive performances recently, Saturday’s Ruhr Valley derby once again has all the makings of being a cracker.

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Subotic, Schmelzer – Bender, Jojic – Aubameyang, Kagawa, Großkreutz – Immobile

VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich – Klein, Schwaab, Rüdiger, Sakai – Gruezo, Oriol Romeu,  Leitner – Gentner, Didavi – Werner

Substitutions: 66. Ramos for Bender, 74. Hummels and Gyau for Aubameyang and Großkreutz – 78. Ibisevic for Werner, 79. Niedermeier for Didavi, 89 Kostic for Gentner

Photo courtesy of official Borussia Dortmund website.

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Ryan currently lives in Northern Ireland but studies Mechanical Engineering in Scotland at Robert Gordon University. His complete obsession for all divisions of German football as a whole is only beaten by his love for 1899 Hoffenheim, he could possibly be the only Hoffenheim fan in the World for whom English is a first language, certainly the only one in the UK. He tries to make it to Germany for football at least once a year.

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